Athens Mayor Steve Patterson and Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis announced that Ohio University and the City of Athens have received the Larry Abernathy Award from the International Town and Gown Association (ITGA) for their joint efforts to foster stronger relationships and communications on and off-campus.
Mayor Patterson and Jennifer Kirksey, Chief of Staff for President Nellis, accepted the award on behalf of the City and Ohio University on May 31 at the ITGA City and University Relations Conference at the Ohio Union on the Ohio State campus in Columbus.
Upon receiving the award, Mayor Patterson stated, “It is such an honor that the City of Athens and Ohio University have been recognized with the ITGA Larry Abernathy Award for excellence in town-gown relations. Given that the City of Athens was established in 1797 and a year later Ohio University was chartered by an Act of Congress and established by the State of Ohio in 1804, it’s safe to say the ‘Town/Gown’ relationship in Athens remains one of the oldest, most enduring of its kind in the United States. The rolling hills of Appalachia have long been home to hardworking people who seek to meet the challenges that each new century brings. The City and the University have endeavored to create a true partnership with strong communications, countless collaborations on community improvement projects, and efforts to enhance the already-vibrant environment in which our citizens live.”
President Nellis added, “Ohio University enjoys a long and vibrant tradition of community engagement. We are fortunate to live, work, and learn in a truly unique environment and to be surrounded by individuals who dedicate themselves to creating collaborations and connections that provide great opportunities help us all realize our potential. We are extremely grateful for this recognition.”
The Larry Abernathy award is given annually at the ITGA conference to a city and university that together best exemplify the mission of ITGA and demonstrate a clear desire to collaborate for the betterment of their community and campus. Previous awards have been given to San Marcos and Texas State University (2017), San Luis Obispo and California State Polytechnic University (2016), Boulder and University of Colorado Boulder (2015), and Kent and Kent State University (2014). The award is dedicated to ITGA founder Larry Abernathy, who served as mayor of Clemson, South Carolina, for 28 years and was passionate about building the relationship between the City of Clemson and Clemson University.